Smith heard Raiders talk

San Jose Mercury colleagues Dan Brown and Tim Kawakami contributed to an interview with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (along with the Sac Bee’s Matt Barrows) Wednesday and almost none of it is of any interest to those who follow the Raiders except this line:

Q: I hear the team across the Bay might have been interested. Did you hear that at all?

Smith: “I did hear that a little bit. I guess there were a lot of rumors and different things swirling out there and you try to take it all in, what is the truth, what isn’t and just go from there.

It was difficult, though, because it’s all kind of hearsay. It happened very quick. And at the same time, hit it off with coach Harbaugh and his staff, so… ”

Hardly definitive. Perhaps untrue.

I talked with a Raiders scout one day about Smith a couple of years back and his assessment at the time made it seem unlikely that the quarterback was Al Davis material. He said Smith seldom threw outside the hash marks in the shotgun Utah offense and that his arm strength was suspect for that reason.

The scout thought Smith could very well be a successful NFL quarterback, if not a star, if put in the right system under an extremely regimented coach. The name Jon Gruden was floated as someone who might make Smith a viable quarterback.

Smith has agents, however, and he wasn’t hearing these rumors about the Raiders interested in the media to my knowledge. Although the Internet gives way to unlimited speculation, I can’t say I’d hard much about Alex Smith coming to Oakland.

But my philosophy for a long time now has been not to discount anything (probably since I shrugged off the Randy Moss-to-the-Raiders story by Profootballtalk.com as ridiculous) so let’s assume for a moment the Raiders had some level of interest in Smith.

And keep in mind CNN-SI’s Peter King spent time in the 49ers draft room and reported Trent Baalke was convinced the Raiders were poised to take Colin Kaepernick unless they moved up to get him first.

Add to it the fact that Campbell, before the lockout, was not offered a contract extension. He’s entering the final year of his contract.

Maybe the Raiders were interested in Smith, maybe not.

Hue Jackson has done a masterful job of making it public that Campbell is the Raiders quarterback this year. But any good organization is looking at options for the future if it doesn’t work out, and Kyle Boller isn’t going to be the answer a year from now if Campbell doesn’t seize the moment.

As fast as Jackson got on the Campbell bandwagon, he’ll jump off if he thinks he’s got a better option to win in the short window allowed Raiders’ head coaches.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer